Writing a Book Proposal

Posted January 29, 2010 by Melissa Breau
Categories: publishing

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A while back, I wrote this piece about what happens to your book once it’s been accepted at a publishing house. But, before a writer gets to that point, they have to do a lot of work – including write a book proposal. Generally, if a writer is interested in writing a book, they do one of four things.

1) Contact their existing agent, and see if the agent thinks the new book is a good idea. If the agent doesn’t, they either don’t write the book or they decide to find another agent for that book. If the agent likes the idea, they will work together to create a book proposal.

2) The writer creates a query letter about their book that they send to agents, hoping to find one that thinks they can sell the book. If someone shows interest in the query letter, the writer will then create a book proposal. The agent will look over the proposal, and if they are still interested in representing the book (ie. they think they can sell it to a publisher) they work with the author to improve the book proposal and perhaps look at the manuscript if it is already written. Then they begin submitting the proposal to publishers who they think may be interested in the work.

3) The writer creates a book proposal and submits THIS to agents. If an agent is interested, then the steps are the same as in option 2, starting with where the agent reviews the proposal.

4) A writer will send a proposal or a manuscript directly to a publisher. This is generally the least successful method for a number of reasons that I will not get into here.

So, all of these, excepting the last one, boil down to creating a book proposal. So what exactly IS a book proposal, anyway?

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Facebook (Ut Oh)

Posted August 17, 2009 by Melissa Breau
Categories: publishing

I’ve been asked to look at facebook as a social marketing method for a magazine company at work. Here is what my research has turned up:

About
Facebook is a social networking website that is operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. Users can add friends and send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves. Additionally, users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school, and region. What began as a network for college students has evolved into an online networking platform for users of all ages.

Originally, brands existed on facebook in only one format: if users liked a brand, or if it held sway with a specific demographic, a user might decide to create a “group” based upon that brand. More recently, Facebook has created an official way for companies to utilize the site by creating business accounts and setting up “fan pages.”

Ideally, for either of these options, the company founder or in the case of a magazine, someone with a large number of personal contacts within the industry being targeted would maintain the group or fan page from their personal account (more about this later).
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NYT.com to charge for content?

Posted May 11, 2009 by Melissa Breau
Categories: publishing

Recently, Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch announced that within the next year News Corporation-owned newspaper Web sites will begin charging for content (See it at CNN or view a transcript).

“We are now in the midst of an epochal debate over the value of content and it is clear to many newspapers that the current model is malfunctioning,” said Murdoch.

“We have been at the forefront of that debate and you can confidently presume that we are leading the way in finding a model that maximizes revenues in return for our shareholders… The current days of the Internet will soon be over.”

Murdoch’s comments show how little he truly understand the web.

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Twit·ter – v. 1. to utter a succession of small, tremulous sounds, as a bird.

Posted April 10, 2009 by Melissa Breau
Categories: publishing

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Twit·ter
– v. (used without object)  1. to utter a succession of small, tremulous sounds, as a bird.twitter

Twitter is the latest popular social phonomenon. In “Are you a Twit if you don’t want to Twitter?” Martha Irvine argues that while twitter is the latest social phonomenon, perhaps there is a social networking fatigue developing; she sources several people who are willing to admit they are less than fans. However, according to “Twitter Traffic Surging” on USA Today’s site: “Worldwide visitors neared 10 million in February, up more than 700 percent in a year. In the U.S., Twitter hit 4 million visitors — up more than 1,000 percent from a year ago.” – and the demographic using the site is older than that traditionally drawn to social web tools. The article quotes comScore: “More specifically, 45-54 year olds are 36 percent more likely than average to visit Twitter, making them the highest indexing age group, followed by 25-34 year olds, who are 30 percent more likely.”

Both articles look at Twitter in some ways compared to Facebook, which was quickly adopted by the college age group (although neither mention that Facebook was also specifically targeted at first to this group). Irvine proposes it as a way to peek into your friends lives, being given minute-to-minute updates on what they are doing. In that people (especially in the 25-34 year old age group) are ‘fatigued’ and are not looking for yet another way to do this, I agree with Irvine. They already have a site that serves these needs. Why look at and learn to use another?

My own use of Twitter is very different from that mentioned by Irvine, however. Read the rest of this post »

Tracking Consumers : Not Just For the FBI

Posted March 15, 2009 by Melissa Breau
Categories: publishing

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person-question_1According to an article on BusinessWeek.com, a new company named Sense Networks is working to track consumer movements through their cell phones. It then groups consumers by ‘tribes’ based upon the places they visit and upon common behaviors.

In the article, the focus is on how this data could be used to create much more targeted advertising campaigns, but upon reading it, I began thinking about how it could be used by magazines, newspapers and books.

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Some Cheese for that Whine… Newspapers (Part 1): Changing Distribution

Posted February 28, 2009 by Melissa Breau
Categories: publishing

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dog-newspaper-21I recently finished a series of “Some cheese for that whine” on the book industry. Now, it’s time to turn our focus to an arguably more doomed industry: the newspaper industry. There are a lot of major issues facing the news world today, and competing with the internet is among the most demanding.

The image of a young boy with a baseball cap, riding a bike with a satchel of newspapers is a pretty American image – but the movement toward digital media may mean no more newspaper boys, and no more having fido fetch the paper (though who gets to tell them they’re fired?)

Newspapers have been threatened before. They were said to be doomed with the birth of radio… and again with the birth of TV. However, this time is different.

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Mag Distributors : Way to go?

Posted February 19, 2009 by Melissa Breau
Categories: publishing

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Most publishing people are probably aware, by this point, of the grand circus that is magazine distributing these days. Since Anderson News Co. and Source Interlink attempted to charge publishers an additional 7 cent surcharge per copy, there has been a lot of speculation, with Time Inc. going so far as to begin to set up a new network of wholesalers to handle distribution of it’s magazines.

Source then sued Time Inc. and other publishing and distribution companies, alleging the companies are trying to drive it out of business. Now according to Media Week, it appears that Source has signed a new multi-year agreement with Time Inc. that does not include the per copy surcharge. The article does not say if the contract includes some other charge or a charge that is not per-copy based.

The trouble here is with the current business plan for these distributors. They are in a seriously comprimised position – they need to be able to provide their customers with content, and need to receive that content from publishers. Without some serious negotiations, one way or another, these companies are in trouble.


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